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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ON DESIGN

A head-turning umbrella and other designer treats


Electric bean

plug

There are plenty of unusual or practical takes on the extension cord out there, but Takumi's BeansQtap is a standout. Maybe it's the colors — it comes in white, pale yellow, pink or green. Or it could be because of the beanlike shape of the base, where you'll find the three plug inlets. Then there's the cord itself, which shares the same twirl as the cord that connect a phone to its handset (completely stretched out, it extends to 3.5 meters). And finally, there's that almost incomprehensible name.

You'll find the BeansQtap in most design boutiques, priced ¥3,675; www.idea-in.com

The shape of a wet future

 Parashell umbrellas

Canadian designer John Di Cesare had to move to Japan before he was able to properly research umbrella and parasol design. Once here, he came up with the unusually shaped line of Parashell umbrellas. With Di Cesare taking inspiration from shellfish more than classic parasol design, the almost fantastical contours of the brand's parasols are not what you'd expect from such a product. But the lack of symmetry makes the series a stylish, head-turning set of accessories, from the elegant Parashell Primaveral and Parashell Magic Girl to the fancy Parashell Frill. With Tokyo's August heat wave just around the corner, we could probably all use one.

Parashell umbrellas and parasols are currently available at the Cibone shop in Aoyama, the museum gift shop of Roppongi's National Art Center and Hanway in Roppongi Hills; www.ddi-parashell.com

Style on your lap

 Kabon tray

Kazuhiko Tomita, former director of the NUSSHA lacquerware brand, may seem out of his element with a product made out of ABS plastic, but the Kabon tray from the popular +d brand of select goods mirrors some of the designer's other popular works. Imitating a briefcase, its convenient handle for hanging eases storage, as does the concave design that is perfect for stacking.

The Kabon tray is available in four colors (brown, red, white and yellow), and sells for ¥2,625 at design boutiques. www.h-concept.jp

It's a bag, not an envelope

Nihon-Sweden have come up with an elegant line of bags they call Envelope

The new collaboration Nihon-Sweden have come up with an elegant line of bags they call Envelope. The collection includes the A4-size Daily Small Bag and three sizes of smaller cases (the smallest is a pen case). There's even a key holder for good measure. The entire line is cut in soft leather, which makes for a satisfying gentle touch. Let's hope that Nihon-Sweden will continue to grow in the future.

The Key Holder is ¥1,575, with the cases ranging from ¥3,990 to ¥4,830, and the Daily Small Bag at ¥15,540; nihon-sweden.com

Tricky bulbs

 Lamp Table Base

It's so easy to love the creative products from design company 100%. They all tend to share a whimsical take on a standard product idea that make each one uniquely fun. The company's latest release is a followup of the Lamp/Lamp light bulb, a light bulb that M.C. Escher would love — the functioning socket on the bulbous part has been duplicated with a nonfunctional one, giving the impression that the bulb is magically lit without being screwed in. The new Lamp/ Lamp Table Base shows off the illusion of the tricky light bulb to the best possible effect.

The Lamp/Lamp Table Base is available in black or white, and retails for ¥4,200 at design boutiques; www.100per.com



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